Now’s the time our thoughts begin to turn toward catching some color on the trail, even in the Piedmont.
Though conditions haven’t been ideal for spotting early fall color — warm, sunny, dry days followed by cool nights — we are beginning to see some change. Last weekend, we saw sourwoods and dogwoods aflame at South Mountains State Park (a popular and close destination for Charlotte hikers), and even this week we’ve seen those first responders of fall start to light up the woods along the Eno River in Durham and Orange counties. With fall color in mind, we offer our thoughts on the weekend.
Fall Foliage Hike, Saturday, 10 a.m., Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap. Located at the base of the Blue Ridge Escarpment, Stone Mountain does seem a likely place to catch early fall color. On this ranger-led hike you’ll explore some of the best places to find that color, and you’ll also be able to learn about the trees in question and what causes the change. Learn more here.
In the Pines Guided Hike, Saturday, 10 a.m., Gorges State Park, Sapphire. While the focus of this hike is pine trees, there’s a good chance you’ll see some early fall color in this rugged and diverse park, which contains 21 of the 44 natural community types found in the mountains of North Carolina. Learn more here.
Swoop In: Fall Hawk Watch, Sunday, noon to 3 p.m., Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Nags Head. You won’t see fall color at the coast, but you will experience another fall phenomenon: the fall hawk migration. Hang out on the dunes, learn about hawks and their fall migration, and participate in the international hawk count project. Learn more here.
If you’re planning to find color on your own, a reminder that last week in this space we wrote about the best ways to find fall color is currently busting out. Find that blog, with numerous resources, here.
Our last thought: this won’t help you find fall color but it could help you find something even more valuable: your way out of the woods. Saturday at 9 a.m., we’re holding our monthly GetOriented! Finding Your Way in the Woods clinic, at Umstead State Park in Raleigh. We spend a half hour going over map and compass skills, then head down the trail and off to help you test your newfound skills and relate what your map and compass are telling you to the world around you. Learn more and sign up here.
Whatever you do this weekend, remember to GetOut! And enjoy!
Hikes for fall
Some trail just lend themselves to certain seasons more than others. We identify six of those trails, in the Piedmont, in two of our GetHiking! Guide compilations.
- Piedmont: 3 Hikes for Fall. Learn why the Cane Creek Natural Area, Seven Mile Creek Natural Area and Day-Hike Section L of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along Falls Lake are especially good all-around fall hikes. Download the guide here.
- Piedmont: 3 Hikes for Mid Fall. Jordan Lake State Educational Forest, the Fews Ford Access at Eno River State Park and MST Day-Hike Sections Q and R highlight this collection, which you can download here.